Wednesday, March 07, 2018

David Hockney: Pop Art Rebel

Self-Portrait, David Hockney, circa 1954

As the MET bids farewell to the David Hockney retrospective in honor of  his 80th year, we pause to celebrate his artistic contribution in the show’s exhibited works from 1960 to the present. The Met’s Gallery 999 on Fifth Avenue in New York City was the sole North American venue for such an experience. This retrospective had come about as a collaboration between The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Tate Britain, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Photo of David Hockney, 1965. c/o The National Portrait Gallery

Born in Yorkshire, England in 1937, Hockney knew he wanted to be an artist by age ten. He studied as a youth at Bradford Art College, and went on to earn a gold medal upon graduation from the Royal Academy of Art in London. By his mid-twenties he had already achieved international success. It is largely his “Tea Paintings” which contributed to his early recognition as a Pop artist, though he rejected this title.

The Second Tea Painting, David Hockney, 1961

David Hockney’s “Model with Unfinished Self-Portrait,” 1977 Image Credit: Richard Schmidt

Henri Matisse’s “Reclining Odalisque,” 1926, The MET

Known for his sought-after swimming pool paintings of the 1970’s, these works demonstrate the influence cubism had on his process. He painted flat-planed Matisse-inspired, idyllic West-coast domiciles. Hockney is quoted as describing his impression of California from the air:

“As we flew in over Los Angeles I looked down to see blue swimming pools all over, and I realised that a swimming pool in England would have been a luxury, whereas here they are not, because of the climate.”

He seemed to study the representation of water in rippled movement and shimmering reflections of still water, water after a splash, water moved by the human form…

A Bigger Splash, 1967, Acrylic on Canvas, David Hockney

“Water in swimming pools changes its look more than in any other form… its colour can be man-made and its dancing rhythms reflect not only the sky but, because of its transparency, the depth of the water as well. If the water surface is almost still and there is a strong sun, then dancing lines with the colours of the spectrum appear everywhere.” -David Hockney

“Portrait of Nick Wilder,” David Hockney, 1966.

A Bigger Splash, film by Jack Hazan c/o

“A Bigger Splash” is much more than a series of swimming pool paintings. After Hockney relocated to California, Jack Hazan sporadically accompanied Hockney with a camera for over three years. At the close of their time together he assembled the footage into a documentary style biopic somewhat fictionalizing Hockney’s life through the lens of his relationships. The film was released by Hazan in 1974. Evidently, following his viewing of the film, Hockney fell into depression for two weeks. It wasn’t until his friend Betty from Paris, watched the film and heralded it as “…the greatest film on art I’ve ever seen” that he lightened up a bit. Supposedly, there were times Hockney was not actually aware that Hazan’s camera was rolling.

Diving Board with Shadow, David Hockney, 1978, Coloured and Pressed Paper Pulp.

Though most of his swimming pool works were created in acrylics, the span of his work explores many other media such as oils, charcoal drawings, photography, collage, videos, even iPad paintings. In the 1980’s Hockney explored photography and produced many photomontages made up of composite collages of photos. He referred to these photo-collages as “joiners.”

Nicholas Wilder Studying Picasso, Los Angeles, David Hockney, 1982 (Photo Montage)

In 2012, Fresh Flowers, a show featuring iPhone- and iPad-made pictures by Hockney premiered at the Foundation of Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. The Royal Academy in London exhibited a series of his landscape paintings in 2011 which also explored his use of the iPad and iPhone is his creative process. These were paintings of the countryside in his hometown of Yorkshire, England. In 2012, his digital work was exhibited at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, or ROM, and, in 2013, at age 76, an exhibit of 150 of Hockney’s iPad images filled San Francisco’s deYoung museum in Golden Gate Park. According to Hockney, “In Rembrandt’s drawings you can see that he worked very fast. That’s what the iPad permits.”

Portrait of Sir David Webster, 1971, acrylic on canvas © David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt

“I draw flowers every day on my iPhone and send them to my friends, so they get fresh flowers every morning.” -David Hockney

Tell me who could not find interest in a mind brimming with innovation and talent whom also reveres his friends with digital renderings of fresh flowers?

“Untitled, 346” Tulips, David Hockney, Ipad Drawing

David Hockney pictured with “Untitled, 10 June 2010” c/o Photo Illustration by Sarah MacKinnon/Maclean’s
Posted by Deanna Ashley at 06:02:32 AM
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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Made in Italy: Italiana Exhibition

“There is a signature to Italian fashion that goes beyond a “Made in Italy” label. There is know-how and a level of understanding. That’s why so many fashion prototypes are still made in Italy.” –Stefano Tonchi, editor of W magazine and curator

Known as the fashion capital of the world, Milan plays an ever important role in the history of design in Italy, as well as internationally. This year, as Milan Fashion Week kicked off, so did a ground breaking exhibition chronicling three decades of Italian fashion and fashion photography. ITALIANA: Italy Through the Lens of Fashion, which is located in the Palazzo Reale, opened on February 22nd and runs until May 6th. The exhibition is curated by Stefano Tonchi, editor of W magazine, and Maria Luisa Frisa, an Italian fashion scholar. The space is full of incredible fashion gems and Italian art, with tickets priced specifically to allow students, fashion schools, and aspiring young designers a chance to appreciate the ingenuity of the past.

Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Italiana Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Poster for Exhibit, WWD
Italiana Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue

The curators have chosen to frame the exhibition between two important dates: 1971, which marks a time when clothing in Italy moved away from focusing on high fashion and the starting point of Italian ready-to-wear; and 2001, when the terrorist attacks in New York began a worldwide change. Despite this time frame, the exhibition moves through nine rooms, not by date, but by theme: Identity, Democracy, Logomania, Diorama, Project Room, Bazaar, Post-Production, Global, and the Italy of Objects. Additionally, the focus is not specifically on famous Italian designers, but on the artists, craftsman, and workers who make up the production pipeline in the industry.

Diorama Room, AE World
Identity Room, AE World
Post-Production Room, AE World

It was important to Tonchi and Frisa that the work emphasize the speed at which Italian fashion has responded to social changes through promoting democracy and tackling issues such as gender identity, feminism, and homosexuality. For them, showcasing the history of Italian fashion will shine a light on the future as well.

“It’s a starting point for a conversation on the history of Italian fashion. It’s also a way to weigh in on its qualities and its flaws. Sometimes, some of its qualities have been perceived as being flaws instead! For instance, its democratic spirit, its worldwide success, its marketing abilities, the idea of making luxury accessible to vast audiences—it has been perceived as too commercial. On the contrary, this was the real big challenge and strength of the made-in-Italy process: to provide a slice of luxury for everyone. It’s a very Italian mind-set. Here, everyone has to be well dressed with good quality fabrics and good style. It’s ingrained in our culture.” –Stefano Tonchi

Photo Oliviero Toscani for the editorial Unilook, in L’Uomo Vogue, December 1971-January 1972, WWD
Piece in Exhibit by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Gianfranco Ferre 1989, New York Times
Look by Versace, Yahoo

With approximately 130 pieces, the exhibit brings visitors into every beautiful detail. Ultimately, Tronchi and Frisa hope viewers leave with an understanding of the intuitive creativity in Italian fashion. While manufacturers in other parts of the world may turn down ideas, in Italy there is never a no.

“Italian fashion is not only about dreams, it also has a deep impact on daily life.” –Maria Luisa Frisa

Romeo Gigli Ensemble, Vogue
Jewelry and Images from Exhibition by Francesco De Luca, Vogue
Gianfranco Ferré look included in the exhibition, Yahoo
Posted by Cecilia Chard at 04:25:08 AM
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Slim Aarons: The High Life

Slim Aarons focused on, “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” This eminent mid-century photographer and portraitist captured and defined quintessential moments of wealth, class, beauty, fashion, and design that have become timeless models of what it looks like to live “the high life”.

‘Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc’, Antibes, France, 1976 | 1stdibs | Getty Images
‘Tennis in the Bahamas’, 1957 | Jonathan Adler | Getty Images

While most of his subjects were celebrities, royalty, political figures, or prominent businessmen, Slim had a unique ability to encapsulate their most authentic and at-ease selves. His photos of these people in their natural element have inspired entire fashion lines, architectural trends, and interior design. Most notably, Slim’s “Polo Player” is a clear influence for Ralph Lauren’s Polo line— from the boots and attire to the dog and hatchback car, this image undoubtedly prompted a fashion empire.

Polo Player Laddie Sanford at the Gulfstream Polo Club, Delray, FL, 1955 | Flo Peters Gallery | Getty Images
‘Britt Ekland’, Porto Ercole, Italy, 1969 | 1stdibs | Getty Images

One of Slim’s most iconic photos, “Poolside Gossip”, is the epitome of mid-century style and architecture. Shot at the famous Kauffman House in Palm Springs, CA,  every detail is a symbol of glamor and modernism that continues to inspire interior, fashion, and furniture designers and architects alike. Even the umbrella in the background is exactly reproduced today by Santa Barbara Umbrellas. We were inspired by the clean lines and angles, and can’t help but envision these Giulio Moscatelli armchairs, Italian leather armchairs, and/or Modernist suede sofa in the living room.

‘Poolside Gossip’, Palm Springs, CA, 1970 | Paddle8 | Getty Images
Kauffman House open air living room | Pinterest
Giulio Moscatelli for Formanova armchairs | JMF
Italian Modernist armchairs | JMF
Vintage Modernist Chrome and Ultrasuede Sofa | JMF

Slim did not use makeup or hair stylists, a lighting crew, or any other assistance for his photos— just his eye and his camera. Many of the people he photographed have commented they didn’t even know when he was taking the picture, they just went about their business and he was able to capture the perfect moment of beauty, honesty, and life. An ideal example of this is a wide-eyed Jackie Kennedy finishing dinner at the April in Paris Ball in 1959. Fun fact: Slim had to crop out John Kennedy, whose arm can be seen in the bottom left corner, because he was blinking.

‘Jackie K’, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, 1959 | Daily Mail | Getty Image
‘Kings of Hollywood’, Beverly Hills, CA, 1957 | 1stdibs | Getty Images
‘Top Up?’, Cannes, France, 1958 | Jonathan Adler | Getty Images

Slim Aarons’ timeless work continues to breathe life into the picturesque (no pun intended) world of the mid-century elite— providing a limitless source of creative inspiration for all forms of art.



Posted by Lauren Gunn at 03:10:59 AM
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Egon Scheile: #To Art Its Freedom

Viennese Modernism 2018

Egon Scheile’s journey into the Art world was a dynamic one. After studying under the esteemed Gustav Klimt in the midst of the rise of Viennese Modernism, the ‘Wiener Moderne,’ he dove into a practice all his own. He honed it, explored the human form, and rivaled social convention of the time. From an 11-year-old boy who sketched trains incessantly to a budding expressionist under the early tutelage of artist Ludwig Karl Strauch, he was accepted to the Kunstgewerbeschule (presently the University of Applied Arts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had preceded him. In 1906, only one year later at the age of 16, he moved on to attend the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts).

Self-Portrait at age 16.

Scheile was not only influenced by Klimt, but by the expressionist work of Oscar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, and Vincent Van Gogh. Though elements of Art Nouveau can be discerned within his early works, his visual kaleidoscope coalesced with human sexuality and fed into a shocking depiction not only of the human body, but the palette as well. The positioning is somewhat exaggerated verging upon the grotesque. Yet there is movement, emotional intimacy, tension, eroticism, and solemnity doused in vivid color against a pale backdrop. This propels his figures into the foreground with unabashed vigor.


“Male Nude in Profile Facing Right” ca. 1910 by Egon Schiele/ Image by © Geoffrey Clements/CORBIS


“Wally in Red blouse with Raised Knees.” by Egon Schiele


“Lovers” Liebespaar by Egon Schiele (pencil and goache on paper)

One hundred years after his death at the tender age of 28, we must examine how far beyond the public comfort level he chose to push figurative art. For even now, society has repressed the artist’s expression, particularly regarding the depiction of nudity. He is revered and censored simultaneously. After the advertising campaign was designed by the Vienna Tourist Board several locations, mainly the London Tube and an airport in Germany, found the exposed genitalia too offensive a visual for public viewing. As The Leopold Museum, which houses the most numerous works by Schiele under one roof, and other museums across Austria host a retrospective to commemorate the centenary of his passing, they pose the question regarding his nude artwork: Is it “still too daring today?”

Nudes by Schiele at London tube station. c/o Christian Lendl/Vienna Tourist Board/AFP

One of his most notable works, a portrait of his mistress and muse, Walburga ‘Wally’ Neuzil, draws one deep into the hypnotic eyes of his subject.

“Portrait of Wally Neuzil” by Egon Scheile

There has been controversy surrounding this work of art as it originally belonged to Jewish art collector by the name of Lea Bondi. It was evidently confiscated from her when she fled Vienna during World War II. Explore the history of this enamored work in the 2012 documentary, “POW: Portrait of Wally.”

This Viennese cultural epoch was an intellectual frontier punctuated by the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, the urban planning of Otto Wagner, the founding of the Vienna Secession movement by Koloman Moser, the dramatic writings of Arthur Schnitzler, and the musical compositions of Gustav Mahler. During this time Egon Schiele, would become one of the most notable painters of Viennese Expressionism.

Architectural Rendering of Karlsplatz Tram Stop, Vienna by Otto Wagner, 1898

For a deeper exploration of Schiele’s controversial life and art, we recommend indulging in the sensuous German film, “Egon Schiele” by Dieter Berner.

German Film Poster for “Egon Scheile” 

Posted by Deanna Ashley at 05:31:06 AM
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